Physiological benefits to parents from undertaking skin-to-skin contact with their neonate, in a neonatal intensive special care unit

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Abstract

There has been increased focus on the use of family-centred care interventions, such as skin-to-skin contact (SSC) in Neonatal Intensive Special Care (NISC) Units over the past two decades. SSC between a parent and their neonate has previously shown to promote positive mental and emotional health in parents and assist in bonding and attachment between parent and neonate. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect that SSC between parent and their neonate has on the parent's heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP). There has been a lack of prior research investigating the physiological responses from SSC on parents, hence the need to conduct this study. The study was conducted as an observational cohort study at The Royal Women's Hospital NISC Unit in Melbourne, Australia. One SSC between parent and neonate was recorded, and three repeated measures analysis of variance (anova) were conducted to investigate the relationship between SSC and the parent's HR, systolic BP and diastolic BP. The study found statistically significant differences between the parent's initial HR and BP, to measurements taken during the SSC (p < 0.05). This may suggest that parents' find SSC with their neonate to be a stress-reducing intervention, whilst they are in a NISC Unit. This may in turn promote associated benefits, such as a decrease in parental depression and anxiety, whilst they are in the NISC Unit, physical health benefits, as well as increased feelings of bonding between parent and their neonate. Based on the findings, it is suggested that SSC should be promoted in NISC Units as a family-centred care intervention that lowers parent's HR and BP and may provide associated health benefits.

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